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New York lawmakers, industry group seek to halt "solar tax" on rooftop systems

November 18, 2021


Mark Harrington

Local lawmakers and solar companies are turning up the heat on LIPA and the state to reject or at least delay a monthly charge to be levied on homeowners who install rooftop solar systems after Jan. 1.

LIPA has signaled its intent to adopt its own version of the state policy approved this summer that institutes a "customer benefit contribution" for new solar customers aimed at getting them to pay for a menu of utility programs they otherwise might avoid because solar can eliminate most or all of their electric bills.

The new charge would add from $5 to $10 or more a month for average residential solar customers’ bills each month.

LIPA is not required to adopt the charge, but is holding public hearings starting this month as its board prepares to adopt the charge in December.

LIPA says the amount is small, and argues it’s needed to help fund programs for low-income customers and green-energy technologies such as heat pumps.

The charge also would apply to other forms of home energy alternatives, such as small wind turbines and fuel cells.

Solar companies on Long Island and across the state have blasted the charge as an unnecessary "solar tax" that will produce relatively little new revenue but hurt solar sales just as the state is adopting aggressive new green-energy goals.

At a briefing Wednesday, three state senators said they’d introduce legislation to halt the new charge.

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